Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) said soldiers on internal security operations in the Niger Delta have rescued 15 persons held hostage by sea robbers in Bayelsa State. The DHQ said the soldiers from Operation DELTA SAFE have also uncovered some illegal refining sites in Nembe, also in Bayelsa State and Orutoru general area in Rivers State, respectively, and recovered five speed boats believed to have been stolen.
Coordinator Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, who made this known in a statement, said the troops recovered several arms, ammunition and other dangerous weapons and equipment from the criminals.
Enenche said: “Troops of Sector 2 while on routine patrol at Nembe Owelesu, Bayelsa State encountered sea robbers at Abuja Open Water-Nembe. The sea robbers on sighting the troop’s gunboats escaped into the creeks. However, troops rescued 15 persons held hostage in five speedboats by the hoodlums.
“Similarly, on April 23, 2020, acting on a tip off, Nigerian navy ship PATHFINDER patrol team intercepted and arrested three Barges (MV Rock 1, JULIANAH and an unnamed barge) laden with illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) at AGIP waterfront for suspected involvement in illegal bunkering activities. The team also arrested another barge laden with suspected stolen crude oil around Okochiri River entrance.
“Also, troops of Sector 3, Operation DELTA SAFE conducted raid on four Illegal refining sites along Dema Abby – Oputumbi – Nanabie – Promise Land – Otobie and Ogono general area. Items discovered and appropriately handled, include seven boilers, nine storage tanks, eight metal tanks, one dugout reservoir all filled with stolen crude oil, eight metal tanks, 18 metal drums, 11 reservoir tanks filled with illegally refined AGO and Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK). Also, two empty Cotonou boats, one generator set, one pumping machine, two welding machines, one filing machine, rolls of hose, and one speedboat mounted with 75 HP engine (use for illegal bunkering activities) were also discovered within the sites.
“Additionally, troops of Sector 3 on patrol intercepted a barge laden with suspected illegally refined AGO around Orutoru general area of Rivers State. Relatedly, on April 25, 2020, following intelligence report, troops of Headquarters Operation DELTA SAFE discovered and appropriately handled an Illegal refining site at Uzere community at Isoko North LGA of Delta State. Additionally, on April 23, 2020, troops of Sector 2 Operation DELTA SAFE deployed along KCTL pipeline at Odau Community in Abua/Odual LGA of Rivers State arrested three suspected pipeline vandals around Shell Petroleum Development Company pipeline.
“Overall, a total of three weapons were recovered, 48 illegal refineries, 28 surface metal storage tanks, 60 cooking ovens and 18 Cotonou boats amongst others were discovered while about 58,500 liters of
DPK, 11, 750 liters of PMS, 855,900 liters of AGO and an estimated 1, 507,000 liters of crude oil were seized by troops.
“All rescued victims, recovered items and arrested suspects are to be handed over to the appropriate authorities at the end of preliminary investigation.
“The general public is hereby requested to continue to give credible information which will assist the military to rid the country of economic saboteurs.